State approves clean-up for closed mines

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Uranium mines in the Grants Mineral Belt will be cleaned up

By Special to the Monitor

The Mining and Minerals Division approved reclamation plans for two closed uranium mines in the Grants Mineral Belt.  They are Section 27 Mine, once operated by the United Nuclear Corporation of Gallup and JJ No. 1/L-Bar Mine, once operated by Sohio Western Mining Company, now under the responsibility of Rio Tinto Energy of America, of Salt Lake City. Both mines have also provided financial assurance to the state for the cost of the reclamation. Mines are required to conduct reclamation under the New Mexico Mining Act.

 “We are pleased that these two mining companies have stepped up to the plate and have some good reclamation plans for these sites,” stated Bill Brancard, Mining and Minerals Division director.  “This is an excellent example of how the New Mexico Mining Act works to clean up some of the older inactive uranium mining operations.”

 The Section 27 Mine is located in McKinley County, 35 miles north of Grants, in the Ambrosia Lake District.  The inactive, former underground uranium mine includes about nine acres of surface disturbance that requires reclamation including two mine shafts, three vent holes, and a number of non-economic ore piles, waste rock piles and topsoil stockpiles.  The mine operated during the early to mid 1970’s and has been inactive since 1977.  United Nuclear Corporation plans to perform the reclamation during 2010.  The reclamation plan will include the sealing of the shafts and vent holes, encapsulation of non-economic ore piles, regrading and covering old rock piles with three feet of topsoil, followed by revegetation with native plants and addressing radiation hazards at the mine site.